“Telling stories” is the mantra nowadays. And to a degree, that’s good. But…
The story has to actually be interesting. And there should be some definable Emotion at its core.
It also shouldn’t be too long. People are in the car. They’re not going to stay in the car because your story is so wonderful. They have things to do, meetings to attend, a job to show up on time for. And when the drive ends, listening to you ends.
And here’s the biggest factor – I spent all this time listening to your story, then the ending of it left me flat. We hear way too much of this nowadays, because storytelling is an ART, not just an exercise. Most people’s stories are boring, or longwinded, or repetitive, or have a “dud” ending, or try to “tie everything up with a neat bow around it” – or all of those things.
So the best way to really start developing the art of telling stories is to remember that IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ENDING.
My friend John Frost’s youngest daughter, when she first started telling stories to her friends, learned this from John, so she developed the habit of no matter what the story was, ending it with “…and then I found five dollars.”
At 9 or 10 years old, she had the magic ingredient – the Ending had a “twist” that the listener didn’t see coming.
Not all stories should end with something that dramatic or funny. Some stories just need a “resolution” – but even then, air talents often try to make it too “big” and miss the point. All you need is just a conclusion based on observance, or a “reveal” of some sort, not some massive “the moral of the story is…” type of thought, or “overview” of some principle.
Here’s how you hone this skill: Whatever you’re going to talk about, think of how it’ll end FIRST. Write it down, if you need to. Once you know where you’re going, you’ll travel in more of a straight line, and it’ll guide the “arc” of the story and shape the language that you’ll use. It’s SO simple, but like many things I coach, it’s deceptively simple. It takes vision, and it takes discipline. But those are what you OWE the listener. No one wants to hear an overly long story with an ending that’s a letdown.
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Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.